Wildfire Safety during COVID-19

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Older and disabled people on Medicare who live in the regions of the country affected by wild fires may need to take extra health precautions.

Wildfire Safety during COVID-19

Preparing for wildfires is especially vital for the health of elders, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A fact sheet from EPA offers guidance on how to prepare for a wildfire and what to do during a wildfire emergency.

Some of the recommendations include learning evacuation routes; buying fans or portable air cleaners; and stocking up on food, medication, and other essential items. During a wildfire, EPA recommends staying inside as much as possible, checking local air quality updates, and avoiding burning candles, using woodstoves, and broiling or frying food to boost indoor air quality.

Considerations during the pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some additional challenges to consider related to the public health impacts of wildfires.

Smoke from wildfires can increase risk of lung infections, including COVID-19. Additionally, symptoms of smoke exposure can be similar to those of COVID-19, making the cause hard to identify. A cough or sore throat could be a symptom of either issue. Fever, chills, body aches, and diarrhea are not related to smoke exposure and could indicate COVID-19 or another illness.

Keep in mind that you should continue to take precautions related to the pandemic. For example, if you need to purchase fans, air cleaners, or air filters to help with indoor air quality, order online if possible.

Also, note that cloth masks do not block the harmful effects of smoke. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about wildfire safety during the pandemic.

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